Disappointment, Discouragement, Depression – The 3Ds

Stop a minute and tell me if your Christian shield has been quite strong, and that you have not experienced, not even for a second, any disappointment at all.I want to be honest with you. There were times I had. Disappointment with self. With family. With others.

Disappointment puts on two faces: Unfulfilled desires and expectations unmet. As a result, you feel as if the world has caved in under you, and you find yourself floating and without support, and you’re unhappy. Disappointment is just that. It is “unhappiness caused by the failure of one’s hopes, desires, or expectations” (From Thesaurus, provided by Houghton, Mifflin & Company; see Answers.com).

And if that is not enough, disappointment too may result to discouragement. Some out-of-duty Christians who have been disappointed have also been discouraged. These two words— disappointment and discouragement— may differ in meaning, yet one of their similarities lies in the number of letters they have. They may be two peas in a pod.

One of the great men in history experienced discouragement that resulted from some disappointment. In 1841, he wrote: “I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on earth. Whether I shall be better I cannot tell. I actually forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible. I must die or be better.” On April 15, 1865, he died, a victim of an assassin’s bullet. His name’s Abraham Lincoln.

“The mass of men,” writes Henry David Thoreau, “lead lives of quiet desperation.” Discouragement, including the desire to give up living, give up life, give up God, is a difficulty common to many of the human race. It takes its toll in the church membership list. Every church, even every denomination, has members who no longer attend. “Here today, gone tomorrow.” If all these people were restored to the group, it is estimated that that group would double in size.

We hear church ministers’ laments over members leaving the pews, but we also hear church members’ laments over ministers leaving the pulpits. Elton Trueblood once wrote: “I receive a constant stream of letters from clergymen who are so frustrated in their work that they desire some kind of change in the vocation.” Discouragement runs gamut in segments of society, including church.

One fable said that in the devil’s market place were found many tools. Buyers had seen that such tools as envy, hatred, pride, jealousy, lying, deceit, etc. were up for sale at discount prices. However, there was one tool that had been separated from the rest, encased in a glass, protected from dust. It was a tool with a very high price placed upon it. It was discouragement. When asked why such a seemingly inconsequential tool, as small as an ordinary key and resembling a wedge with a hook on its end, was priced so much, the devil answered: “It is the most terrific of all them. It can pry open a heart no matter how shielded. It gets inside a heart when I cannot. Adultery, idolatry, hatred, etc. have my labels placed upon them and so people will know it’s coming from me. But not so with discouragement. You see how badly worn it is? Because I use it on almost everyone, and few people know it belongs to me.”

Depression, or discouragement, spreads like a flu. A discouraged and depressed spirit makes one quit. We have a case of two ladies in the community where the Mountain View church meets, who wanted to commit suicide. Luckily for them, we have a support group in place.

Depression and discouragement have a spiritual dimension. It has been proved by the Scripture and by human experience that a separation from the Lord and a communion with sin don’t bring happiness.

What must you do? Realize that the problem is as common as common colds. No one is immune from it. It is a disease of which religion is no guarantee. Demas was depressed and left the church. Paul knew depression and discouragement but knew how to combat the disease.

Examine the causes. Try looking into the deepest recesses of your soul, and find out if you yourself have not been contributory to the disease.

Avoid being in the company of those who would discourage you. Approach them with a ten-foot pole. If you cannot avoid them, block out their pessimistic influence from getting into your heart.

Seek the company of those who can encourage you. Read articles and Bible verses that speak about the beauty of spirituality, the hope of heaven, and the bliss of eternity.

Learn from your failures and mistakes in the past. Be practical: Some things could be worse.

Remember that seasons of failures may be occasion for Christian growth. The pains of today may bring joys of tomorrow. Develop the patience of Job. Persevere. Look around and see those who look up to you: If you quit, you become the reason for others to quit.

Trust in the Lord to do a make-over on you. Let Him work on you. Some of those failures are meant to teach you to stop trusting on your own abilities but to put Him in control over your lives, your vision, your possessions.

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